My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fortune Cookie Wisdom For Writers V

I felt a lot better about my grammar choices (not my mistakes, but my choices) that were disagreeable to others after I witnessed a 5700 page argument online, complete with references to Hitler and death threats, about which way the toilet paper is supposed to go.

You know, the longer I do this, the more I think the best advice I could possibly give an artist is not to be too good for the baby step--the tiny bit of progress. Expecting that one big pay day is, I believe, holding way too many people with way too much talent back from stuttering forward and actually making progress.

Let's be absolutely clear. I don't "hate" NaNoWriMo. I just think it would be a lot better for most writers if it was only about 500-1000 words a day, and went on for another 11 months.

If people got half as excited for National Novel Revision Month, we'd be onto something.

The trick to sounding really smart as a writer is not in knowing a bunch of things. It's just in knowing where to look and how to search. Because when you're writing, you always have time to look.

The London Philharmonic practiced that song they just played like fifty times before they performed it. You can do one fucking revision of your novel.

The worst offense lit snobs make when making the claim that genre work is crap is that they re-label good examples of genre writing so that it can be acceptable. Science fiction becomes "futurism." Fantasy becomes "literary fantasy" or "magical realism" (depending on its setting in time). While some of their other behavior is merely unconscious elitism, this maneuver actually requires deliberate thought. Though not morally equivalent, this is behaviorally almost identical to how racists say Will Smith isn't "really" black. It's disgusting for such well-read people to be so oblivious of the trappings of rank discrimination and prejudice, and they should stop.

NaNo don'ts: Don't even think you won't need to rewrite. Don't call yourself a novelist. Don't ask anyone to read that first version.

The sooner you learn to accept feedback that points out your writing's errors, the sooner your writing will go from "eh" to "okay." The sooner you go from accepting feedback to wanting it and seeking it out, you will go from "okay," to competent or possibly even good.  You will not get to good without an editorial voice. Every writer needs one.

If you don't believe that you will be a better writer from practice, ask most any writer what they think of the writing they did five years ago and watch their reaction. It is only a writer's unconscionably massive, planetoid-sized ego that allows them to think that now they have truly reached the pinnacle of their ability and no further practice can be of use.

The problem with successful authors who tell hopeful writers that they have to spend a lot of time not making money before they can make money is that the usual response is "Great.  I'm already not making money!"  What they should be saying is that you have to spend a lot of time working really hard and not making money. There's the rub.

The dream of creating the final product is what drives many to writing (or indeed any art), but if there's one thing that separates the true artist from the desultory dreamer it is a love of the process for its own sake--the mistakes, the cutting feedback, the long hours, the not-quite-right hair pulling of it all.

I need more fortune cookie wisdom!!!

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